"I can always read Milton in the reading-room."
"Of the British Museum. I go there every day."
"You do? I've only been there once. I'm afraid I found it rather a
depressing place. It--it seemed to sap one's vitality."
"It does. That's why I go there. The lower one's vitality, the more
sensitive one is to great art. I live near the museum. I have rooms in
"And you go round to the reading-room to read Milton?"
"Usually Milton." He looked at me. "It was Milton," he
certificatively added, "who converted me to diabolism."
I almost wondered that Mr. Soames did not, after this monosyllable, pass along. He stood patiently there, rather like a dumb animal, rather like a donkey looking over a gate. A sad figure, his. It occurred to me that "hungry" was perhaps the mot juste for him; but--hungry for what? He looked as if he had little appetite for anything. I was sorry for him; and Rothenstein, though he had not invited him to Chelsea, did ask him to sit down and have something to drink.
Seated, he was more self-assertive. He flung back the wings of his cape with a gesture which, had not those wings been waterproof, might have seemed to hurl defiance at things in general. And he ordered an absinthe.
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